India honor killing: Police arrest 3 people over murder of young couple planning to wed

An Indian resident dances in an alleyway in front of drummers during a wedding procession in Kathputli Colony in New Delhi on June 7, 2013. Many Indians still prefer arranged marriages.

Police in northern India have arrested at least three people over the murder of a young couple who had eloped to the capital New Delhi and were planning to marry despite family opposition.

Twenty-three-year-old Dharmender Barak was beaten with sticks and beheaded, while his 20-year-old fiancée Nidhi Barak was also killed in Garnauthi village in Rohtak district in the state of Haryana on Wednesday.

Police have arrested the woman’s mother, father and uncle over the gruesome murder, which they have branded an honor killing.

So-called honor killings are common in India where many traditional families still prefer to arrange the marriages of their offspring and disapprove of love matches.

"We have arrested her father, mother and uncle and we are looking for her brother, a friend and driver of the car in which the couple were brought back to her home in Gharnavati village," local police chief Anil Kumar was quoted as saying. 

"Both belonged to the same village and the same caste.

"It is an honour killing but the murder was not approved by society."

The couple had been in a relationship for three years, and were college students. They had reportedly fled to New Delhi on Tuesday morning, but were tracked down and brought back to the village where they were killed. 

The Supreme Court has said those found guilty of commiting honor killings should be given the death penalty.